The Bretons, who most nearly represent the Celts, and the Basques, who inhabit parts of the western versant of the Pyrenees, have preserved their distinctive languages and customs, and are ethnically the most interesting sections of the nation; the Flemings of French Flanders where Flemish is still spoken are also racially distinct.
These rivers rise on the eastern versant of a chain of mountains which traverse the country in a south-westerly to north-easterly direction.
The Shilka and the Argun, which form it, flow first towards the north-east along the windings of the lower terrace of the great plateau; from this the Amur descends, cutting through the Great Khingan and flowing down the terraces of the eastern versant towards the Pacific. A noteworthy feature of the principal Siberian rivers is that each is formed by the confluence of a pair of rivers.
The rivers of the northern versant, such as the Nera, are, like those of Asturias, for the most part short, rapid and subject to violent floods.
Though rugged in places, with outlying spurs and secondary chains, the westward slopes of the Drakensberg are much gentler than the eastern or Natal versant of the chain.